Delving Deep into My Past… | The Private Diary of an Actress in Training #2 {Self-Reflection Journal}

Enter 3rd year of university.

*Wipes brow of sweat*

selfie dead

guhhhh I can feel it already

This year is going to be intense! Not only do I have classes Monday-Friday, but also evening rehearsals 6-10 and Saturdays as well. Here we go, acting major!

As part of my assignment in school, it’s important that we keep a journal for certain classes documenting our discoveries and reflect on ourselves of our emotions, habits, patterns, and thoughts. Throughout the year, we are expected to hand them in periodically to our teachers; here’s this one for the beginning of 2017 school year in voice class. I wrote one last year on my voice (physically and metaphorically). Argghhh, life! At least this gives me a chance to brain dump everything I’m frustrated with as well as the breakthroughs I’ve had; on top of that I can use these essays as way to wrote blog posts too.

Let’s delve a little bit into my past…


Finding My Silenced Voice

I was born in China and lived there until the age of 4, when I came to Canada. As a result of spending the first 4 most important years of my life, I can speak Mandarin, but since I grew up in Canada, English feels more like my home language.

selfie

The clash of eastern versus western cultural values became apparent as I matured through my years and peeked in my adolescence. Being brought up with parents that taught me to suck-it-up, blend in, sacrifice gave me a hard exterior. They taught me suffering was crucial to life—I can’t say that it was exactly the most humanistic point view and growing up this affected my self-esteem. I never felt like what I did was good enough; I always felt like I was at a loss no matter the situation. When I achieved a 98% on my science test, I lamented the 2% and jumped straight to where I got it wrong. I was taught to downplay my successes and to disregard them; not celebrate them. I was taught to compare, analyze, and perfect, and while this fueled a lot of ambition and critical thinking skills that perpetuated success in academia, I also felt less and less human as I trained my brain but never my heart. Something inside me tugged that I wasn’t happy. It was almost as if there was something wrong with being satisfied and happy. No, you can’t be happy yet, Linda. You haven’t got this and that! Now when I do find myself in a state of pure bliss, I almost won’t allow myself to enjoy the moment because it feels like something is going to go wrong; so I actively think about things that might go wrong–just in case. Because this happiness—it must be too good to be true…right? There’s no way I can get this for free. There has to be a sacrifice.

There’s no way I can get this for free. There has to be a sacrifice.

Why do I self sabotage this way? Do I not deserve happiness? In my heart, I know I do.

selfie with grade 4 teacher on thanksgiving

I revisited my grade 4 teacher when I was in my first year of university! She touched my life deeply and I wanted to reconnect with her on Thanksgiving.

In grade 4 I discovered pure joy. I discovered a group of friends that accepted me for the weirdo I was; my obnoxious humor and playfulness just clicked with them the way I’ve never found with anyone else! I never went a day without laughing. I laughed so much my stomach hurt. It’s the best pain ever. I think I had a 6-pack. I’ve never been so happy in my life. In grade 5, I learned to shut up. I moved houses, which meant I changed schools and in this new class, I was no longer accepted the quirky way I was. I was seen as obnoxious and weird. Weird. What used to be a blessing now felt like a burden.

And just…I’ve never felt so small in my life. I felt like I needed to make myself small because everything I’ve ever offered since then–an answer, a favor, an act of kindness or just plainly expressing my fascination was frowned upon or snickered at. As my voice grew smaller, my body did the opposite; it matured. This made me even more insecure about being different. My voice grew smaller and smaller.

selfie grade 7 quebec trip

On a Quebec city school excursion in grade 7.

In my teens, I remember fighting endlessly with my parents as I began to question the values around what I’ve been taught, including conformity and self-identity. I turned to different forms of self harm and sabotage to feel anything else other than the emotional turmoil that coiled deep down inside. Eventually, I found healthier outlets through acting, singing, dancing, and running and fell deeply in love with the non-academic: fitness and arts. It brought a sense of freedom, detoxification, and creative self-expression that my soul was starving for. I just know it’s saved my life; I’ve fallen deeply in love and am dedicating my life to fitness and the arts by being a life/health coach and an aspiring acting instructor.

I’ve used addiction to self-remediate. There. I said it. And I still struggle sometimes. To my cellphone. To technology. To rumination. To self-sabotage. To achievement. I learned that I developed these addictions as a result of not having my voice heard. I’ve always felt small, and so the need to achieve something great and be recognized for it has been ingrained in me and charged a perfectionist mindset. I don’t want to say that this is all negative–on the positive, it’s made me to be the disciplined, hard-working, ambitious entrepreneur and artist I am today. I’ve also abused food to numb out feelings of boredom and loneliness. Since moving in grade 4, I didn’t know how to deal with fitting in and couldn’t find my place in a new school with a new social hierarchy. I was also completely naïve to bullying because before that, I had always gotten along with every single person in my class. After school, I would sit in front of the TV and shove Oreos in my mouth, numbing out the pain and confusion and frustration I couldn’t put into words. This continued on and off for years and at some point just became habit. I no longer turned to food just to numb out feelings, but I turned to it almost on autopilot for no particular reason at all. I think it was around this time I seriously messed up my gut microbiome somehow.

sad selfie

I’ve learned that sobriety is not a destination, but a constant journey—you never TRULY get over an addiction once and for all because the possibility of relapse is one you can never to be cross out completely. Every single day I choose to engage or disengage in maladaptive behaviors. It does get easier and doesn’t have to be debilitating, especially with some coaching.

I have some digestive issues that affect mood and energy. Since cutting out sugars and dairy and transitioning to wholesome diet comprised of natural foods, I’ve noticed a dramatic shift. My moods have been more manageable; indigestion used to prevent me from participating in a lot of social events and some physical events caused discomfort. I remember in high school, I would cry at the drop of a hat (combining that with having a lack of friends…let’s just say I was a mess and looking back at pictures, I sure wonder how I was able to pull myself through those years). I still deal with some of the issues around digestion/mood but it’s gotten so much better!

acting conservatory class

The class in 2016; my 2nd year of postsecondary. There’s now 15 of us in 2017 instead of 16. Can you spot me?

In acting, I was told by Eric I have a meticulous, small instrument that a camera can pick up nicely but won’t read in theatre. I need to make myself bigger in physicality and voice, and this scares me because I do not want to cross the boundary of realism and come out as phony. I think that pulls people away from me and I’m afraid if I’m too showy-offy people will think I’m obnoxious and self-indulgent and won’t like me. Or maybe they’ll talk behind my back. I am afraid of being disliked and shunned. This fear of rejection also stunts my growth as an artist AND HUMAN BEING; and perhaps is the very thing I need to do in order to move forward in my art and in life. I need to risk looking silly. This is the link to the gap I’ve been searching for.

I’m not going to lie, I’m freaking scared shitless because it has been ingrained in my psyche and unconsciously in my body to restrict impulses and movements. I desperately want to push myself outside of my comfort zone and I want the unconditional support, love, and encouragement from my 14 peers so that I feel safe in risking myself. Wow, I literally feel like I am jumping off the roller coaster doing this. I cannot begin to express how terrified I am, but my hope for growth is stronger!

 

So…what do I want to get out of voice class? Ultimately, I know I am a headstrong and passionate Taurus; when I want something I am very fiery, but I could just as well be super stubborn and turn the flame for destruction as much as I can to build. I just need the training from to learn where to direct my flame.


What were your family dynamics growing up? Did you grow up in North America? Where in the world are you living in now? Have you dealt with addiction?